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hire* and therefore unable to decipher initials and blanks, had now name and persons brought within their view; and delighted in the visible effect of those shafts of malice, which they had hitherto contemplated, as shot into the air.
Dennis, upon the fresh provocation now given him, renewed the emity which had for a time been appeased by mutual civilities; and published remarks, which he had till then suppressed, upon the <l Rape of the Lock." Many more grumbled in secret, or vented their resentment in the newspapers by epigrams or invectives.
Ducket, indeed, being mentioned as loving Burnet with "pious passion," pretended that his moral character was injured, and for some time declared his resolution to take vengeance with a cudgel. But Pope appeased him by changing " pious passion" to " cordial friendshpand by a note, in which he vehemently disclaims the malignity of meaning imputed to the first expression.
Aaron Hill, who was represented as diving for the prize, expostulated with Pope in a manner so much superior to all mean solicitation, that Pope Was reduced to sneak and shuffle, sometimes to deny, and sometimes to apologise; he first endeavours to Wound, and then is afraid to own that he meant a blow.
The "Dunciad," in the complete edition, is addressed to Dr. Swift; of the notes, part were written by Dr. Arbuthnot; and an apologetical Letter was prefixed, signed by Cleland, but supposed to have been written by Pope.
After this general war upon Dulness, he seems to
VOL. XI. I
have indulged himself a while in tranquillity; but his subsequent productions prove that he was not idle. He published (1731) a poem on "Taste," in which he very particularly and severely criticises the house, the furniture, the gardens, and the entertainments, of Timon, a man of great wealth and little taste. By Timon he was universally supposed, and by the Earl of Burlington,. to whom the poem is addressed, was privately said to mean the Duke of Chandos; a man perhaps too much delighted with pomp and show, but of a temper kind and beneficent, and who had consequently the voice of the public in his favour.
A violent outcry was therefore raised against the ingratitude and treachery of Pope, who was said to have been indebted to the patronage of Chandos for a present of a thousand pounds, and who gained the opportunity of insulting him by the kindness of his invitation.
The receipt of a thousand pounds Pope publicly denied; but, from the reproach which the attack on a character so amiable brought upon him, he tried all means of escaping. The name of Cleland was again employed in an apology, by which no man was satisfied; and he was at last reduced to shelter his temerity behind dissimulation, and endeavour to make that disbelieved which he never had confidence openly to deny. He wrote an exculpatory letter to the Duke, which was answered with great magnanimity, as by a man who accepted his excuse, without believing his professions. He said, that to have ridiculed his taste, or his buildings, had been an indifferent action in another tnan; but that in Pope, after the reciprocal kindness that had been exchanged between them, it had been less easily exctised.
Pope, in one of his Letters, complaining of the treatment which his poem had found, "owns that "such critics can intimidate him, nay almost per"suade him to write no more, which is a compli"ment this age deserves.'T The man who threatens the World is always ridiculous; for the world can easily go on Without him, and in a short time Will cease to miss him. I have heard of an idiot, who used to revenge his vexations by lying all night upon the bridge. "There is nothing," says Juvenal, "that a man will not believe in his own favour." Pope had been flattered till he thought himself one of the moving powers in the system of life. When he talked of laying down his pen, those who sat round him entreated and implored; and self-love did not suffer him to suspect that they went away and laughed.
The following year deprived him of Gay, a man whom he had known early, and whom he seemed to love with more tenderness than any other of his literary friends. Pope was now forty-four years old; an age at which the mind begins less easily to admit new confidence; and the will to grow less flexible; and when, therefore, the departure of an old friend is very acutely felt.
In the next year he lost his mother, not by an unexpected death, for she had lasted to the age of ninety-three: but she did not die unlamented. The filial piety of Pope was in the highest degree amiable and exemplary; his parents had the happiness of'. living till he was at the summit of poetical reputation, till he was at ease in his fortune, and without a rival in his fame, and found no diminution of his respect or tenderness. Whatever was his pride, to them he was obedient; and whatever was his irritability, to them he was gentle. Life has, among its smoothing and quiet comforts, few things better to give than such a son.
One of the passages of Pope's life, which seems to deserve some enquiry, was a publication of Letters between him and many of his friends, which falling into the hand of Curll, a rapacious bookseller of no good fame, were by him printed and sold. This volume contained some Letters from noblemen, Pope incited a prosecution against him in the House of Lords for a breach of privilege, and attended himself to stimulate the resentment of his friends. Curll appeared at the bar, and, knowing himself in no great danger, spoke of Pope with very little reverence: "He has," said Curll, "a knack "at versifying, but in prose I think myself a match "for him." When the orders of the House were examined, none of them appeared to have been infringed; Curll went away triumphant; and Pope was left to seek some other remedy.
Curll's account was, that one evening a man in a clergyman's gown, but with a lawyer's band, brought and ordered to sale a number of printed volumes, which he found to be Pope's epistolary correspondence; that he asked no name and was told none, but gave the price demanded, and thought himself authorised to use his purchase to his own advantage.
That Curll gave a true account of the transaction it is reasonable to believe, because no falsehood was ever detected; and when, some years afterwards, I mentioned it to Lintot the son of Bernard, he declared his opinion to be, that Pope knew better than any body else how Curll obtained the copies, because another parcel was at the same time sent to himself for which no price had ever been demanded, as he made known his resolution not to pay a porter, and consequently not to deal with a nameless agent.
Such care had been taken to make them public, that they were sent at once to two booksellers; to Curll, who was likely to seize them as his prey; and to Lintot, who might be expected to give Pope information of the seeming injury. Lintot, I believe, did nothing: and Curll did what was expected. That to make them public was the only purpose may be reasonably supposed, because the numbers, offered to sale by the private messengers, shewed that hope of gain could not have been the motive of the impression.
It seems that Pope, being desirous of printing his Letters, and not knowing how to do, without imputation of vanity, what has in this country been done very rarely, contrived an appearance of compulsion; that, when he could complain that his Letters were surreptitiously published, he might decently and defensively publish them himself.
Pope's private correspondence, thus promulgated, filled the nation with praises of his candour, tenderness, and benevolence, the purity of his purposes, and the fidelity of his friendship. There were some